Skip booklet index and go to page content

Species at Risk - A guide to Canada's species at risk in the Prairie Provinces – March 2014

Plants

Slender Mouse-ear-cress

Halimolobos virgata

Photo of Slender Mouse-ear-cress
Photo: © Bonnie Heidel
Long description for Slender Mouse-ear-cress photo

This is a photo of a Slender Mouse-ear-cress with a pencil to the right of it  to provide a reference to scale. Plants are densely hairy, covered with greyish forked, multi-branched and often simple hairs.  Basal rosette leaves are toothed with stalks (petioles), while leaves on the stem are clasping with ear-like lobes at the base.  Leaves get smaller towards the top of the plant.  Stems can be branched.

Height:
10-35 cm (4-14 inches)
Flowers:
May-June

Threatened

The slender mouse-ear-cress can have single or branched stems, each ending with several white, 4-petaled flowers and seed pods containing many tiny seeds. It grows on flat to rolling open native prairie with sandy or loamy soils.

Did you know?

  • The leaves have ear-like lobes at the base and are covered in fine gray hairs, resembling mouse ears.
  • Slender mouse-ear-cress typically grows in areas that have had light disturbance from grazing.
Slender Mouse-ear-cress map
Slender Mouse-ear-cress map
Long description for Slender Mouse-ear-cress map

This is the distribution map of Slender Mouse-ear-cress in Alberta and Saskatchewan. There are two areas where the plant is found in Alberta; north of Brooks and along the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer Rivers north of Medicine Hat. In Saskatchewan, it is found in the Great Sandhills, around Lake Diefenbaker, and Buffalo Pound Lake.

Top of Page


Small-flowered Sand-verbena

Tripterocalyx micranthus

Small-flowered Sand-verbena
Photo: © Environment Canada, Candace Neufeld
Long description for Small-flowered Sand-verbena photo

This is a photo of Small-flowered sand-verbena growing in sand. It is an annual species, with branched, trailing stems and opposite leaves.  It produces small, greenish-white flowers in umbel-like clusters and large peach-coloured winged fruits.

20-30 cm (8-12 inches) high with branches trailing up to 60 cm (24 inches).

Flowers:
mid-June to fall

Endangered

The small-flowered sandverbena is an annual plant with highly branched stems, mostly trailing over the ground. It has paired leaves, and small greenish-white flowers arranged in dense clusters which turn into pinkish papery winged fruits. It grows in active or sparsely vegetated sand dunes, and on sandy slopes along rivers.

Did you know?

  • It can be confused with a look-alike species called sand dock (Rumex venosus). However, sand dock is a perennial with alternate leaves, papery sheaths around where the leaves join the stem, and more reddish coloring.
  • The wings surrounding the seed may contain a chemical that inhibits seed germination until conditions are right for growth.
Small-flowered Sand-verbena map
Small-flowered Sand-verbena map
Long description for Small-flowered Sand-verbena map

This is the distribution map of Small-flowered Sand-verbena in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is restricted to localized sand dune complexes within wind-blown and glaciofluvial landscapes in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  These sand dunes complexes are comprised mainly of the Dominion, Grassy Lake, Bowmanton, and Middle sand hills in Alberta.  In Saskatchewan, the sand dune complexes include the Empress Meander and Cramersburg sand hills as well as unnamed sand hills along the South Saskatchewan River bank at Saskatchewan Landing and south of Outlook.

Top of Page


Small White Lady's-Slipper

Cypripedium candidum

Photo of Small White Lady's-Slipper
Photo: © Manitoba Conservation, Wildlife & Ecosystem Protection Branch
Long description for Small White Lady's-Slipper photo

This is a photo of a Small White Lady’s-Slipper. Flowers consist of a small (less than 2.7 cm long), white, pouch-shaped “slipper” with purplish veins or spots. The surrounding twisted, greenish-yellow petals and sepals are also streaked or spotted with purple.

Height:
20-36 cm (8-14 inches)
Flowers:
late May to early June

Endangered

The small white lady's-slipper is an attractive orchid with flowers that resemble a slipper due to a white pouch streaked with purple, and two side petals that are twisted and yellowish green. It grows in large clumps with each stem surrounded by two or four leaves, and is found in full sun on calcium-rich prairie openings in wooded grasslands, roadside ditches and moister tallgrass prairie.

Did you know?

  • It can take about 12 years for a plant to flower.
  • A key component in survival and recovery of tall grass prairie species is conservation of the little habitat that is remaining, such as the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve.
Small White Lady's-Slipper map
Small White Lady's-Slipper map
Long description for Small White Lady's-Slipper map

This is a distribution map of Small White Lady’s-Slipper in southern Manitoba. It occurs in 9 small areas in a triangle between Brandon, the south eastern corner of Lake Manitoba and Vita south of Winnipeg.

Top of Page


Smooth Goosefoot

Chenopodium subglabrum

Photo of Smooth Goosefoot
Photo: © Candace Neufeld
Long description for Smooth Goosefoot photo

This is a photo of Smooth Goosefoot.  It is erect and branching with an airy look, growing to 10-55 (80) cm high.  Leaves are alternate, fleshy, one-veined, hairless and almost or entirely lacking the mealiness (whitish scales) common to most goosefoots. Flowers are small, with only 5 green tepals (no petals), and are in rounded clusters (glomerules) that are widely spaced along the upper, leafy branches. The whole plant has a yellowish green coloration.

Height:
10-50cm (4-19 inches)
Flowers:
July – August

Threatened

Smooth goosefoot is an annual plant, yellowish green in colour, with fleshy leaves and green clusters of flowers widely spaced along the branches. Smooth goosefoot grows in sandy soil on sparsely vegetated sand dunes.

Did you know?

  • Dune stabilization is one of the biggest threats to sand dune specialists; a combination of fire and grazing during appropriate times of the year, mimicking natural disturbance regimes, is likely most effective at maintaining open sand dune habitat.
  • Use of motorized or recreational vehicles (e.g. ATVs, motorbikes) in sand dunes can destroy sand dune plants and damage the habitat.
  • Invasive alien plants, such as leafy spurge, threaten to alter sand dune habitat making them unusable for sand dune species.
Smooth Goosefoot map
Smooth Goosefoot map
Long description for Smooth Goosefoot map

This is a distribution map of Smooth Goosefoot in the sand dunes of Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is found between Lethbridge and Saskatoon, and in sandhills east and west of Brandon.

Top of Page


Soapweed (Yucca)

Yucca glauca

Photo of Soapweed (Yucca)
Photo: © Joyce Gould
Long description for Soapweed (Yucca) photo

This is a photo of Soapweed in bloom. It is a large, drought-tolerant perennial with a broad crown of leaves emerging from a short woody base. The stiff, narrow and pointed leaves are 20 to 50 cm in length. The 50- to 100-cm flower stalk that emerges from the middle of the plant is topped by a cluster of creamy white, 5-cm flowers.

Height:
leaves 20-50 cm (8-20 inches) and flower stalk 50-100 cm (20-39 inches)
Flowers:
early May

Threatened

Soapweed is a large plant with a crown of broad sword-like leaves. When flowering, it has a tall stalk topped with creamy white flowers. It thrives in arid regions such as dry coulee slopes.

Did you know?

  • Soapweed can only be pollinated by the yucca moth and the larve only eats the seeds of soapweed!
  • There are a few introduced populations, such as in Lethbridge and southern Saskatchewan.
Soapweed (Yucca) map
Soapweed (Yucca) map
Long description for Soapweed (Yucca) map

This is the distribution map of Soapweed in south eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Alberta is found in the One Four Research Station in and the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve, in the Milk River drainage basin. In Saskatchewan it is found near Fife Lake, east of Grassland Nation Park.

Top of Page


Tiny Cryptantha

Cryptantha minima

Photo of Tiny Cryptantha
Photo: © Charles Schurch Lewallen, 1999
Long description for Tiny Cryptantha photo

This is a photo of a Tiny Cryptantha in bloom. Its bristly-hairy stem is branched and reaches 20 cm in height. Equally bristly-hairy, the leaves are alternate, entire, linear with a broader base and measure up to 6 cm long. They become smaller near the top of the stem and continue into the flower spikes as leafy bracts. The flower head is composed of several flower spikes. The flower petals are white, and up to 3 mm long.

Height:
3-20 cm (1-8 inches)
Flowers:
June to July

Endangered

The tiny cryptantha is a small, bristly-haired annual plant. It has tiny white flowers with a yellow "eye" in the centre, and a small leaf-like bract at the base of each flower. It grows on sandy, rolling upland, valley slopes, or terraces in dry environments within a few km of rivers.

Did you know?

  • The fruit (calyx) each contain 4 nutlets; three are smaller and covered in bumps and the other is larger and smooth.
  • Tiny cryptantha seeds can germinate at temperatures below 0°C.
  • The bristles on the fruiting structures get caught on animal's fur as they pass by, helping to transport the seed.
Tiny Cryptantha map
Tiny Cryptantha map
Long description for Tiny Cryptantha map

This is a distribution map of Tiny Cryptantha in south eastern Alberta and just beyond the border, into Saskatchewan. It is found along the South Saskatchewan between Lethbridge and north of Canadian Forces Base Suffield to the border, and at the One Four Research Station in Alberta.

Top of Page


Western Silvery Aster

Symphyotrichum sericeum

Photo of Western Silvery Aster
Photo: © Thomas G. Barnes
Long description for Western Silvery Aster photo

This is a photo of the Western Silvery Aster. It is a perennial with several stems which measure 30 to 70 cm in height. The leaves are densely covered with silvery hairs. The flowers are violet to pink with lighter centers and occur in composite heads at the ends of branches.

Height:
30-70 cm (12-28 inches)
Flowers:
early August to mid-September

Threatened

The Western silvery aster has daisylike flowers with a yellowish-brown centre and bright pink to dark purple petals. Leaves are covered in silky hairs, giving it a silvery appearance. They are found on well-drained sandy or gravelly soils on prairie, roadside ditches, and openings in bur oak/trembling aspen woodlands.

Did you know?

  • Some populations occur along roadsides. Maintenance activities like mowing in late summer can impact western silvery aster if the flowering heads are removed before the seed is released.
  • Western silvery aster is threatened by gravel extraction, and invasion by non-native plants and woody species into prairie.
Western Silvery Aster map
Western Silvery Aster map
Long description for Western Silvery Aster map

This is the distribution map of the Western Silvery Aster in south central Manitoba. It is found in small areas north and east of Winnipeg, and in one large are south east of Winnipeg between Steinbach and the US border.

Top of Page


Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

Platanthera praeclara

Photo of Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
Photo: © Gene Fortney
Long description for Western Prairie Fringed Orchid photo

This is a photo of the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid in bloom. It is an erect perennial that grows from a tuber that has thick, fleshy roots. The single stem (rarely two or even three) is 40-88 cm high and does not usually have any branches. Along the stem, there are usually 5-7 leaves that are 9-15 cm long and 1.5-3.5 cm wide, the upper ones being reduced in size. The 5-15 cm long flower spike is 5-9 cm wide and consists of 4-33 white or creamy flowers, each with a distinctly fringed lip (lower petal).

Height:
40-88 cm (16-35 inches)
Flowers:
Late June-Mid July

Endangered

The Western prairie fringed-orchid has a spike of large, white flowers with deeply fringed petal margins. It grows in wet, poorly drained tall grass prairie, roadside ditches, and sedge meadows on calcium rich or alkaline sandy and loamy soils.

Did you know?

  • Flowers are fragrant at night to attract the Sphinx moths which pollinate it.
  • It requires very specific soil conditions so altering the water tables in the areas around the plants can make the habitat unsuitable.
  • Plants are susceptible to spraying of herbicides and fertilizers, roadside maintenance activities prior to seed set, and overgrazing.
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid map
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid map
Long description for Western Prairie Fringed Orchid map

This is the distribution map for Western Prairie Fringed Orchid in south central Manitoba. It is found in only one area centred around the town of Vita.

Top of Page